AT&T CEO: Apple’s App Store Bad for Consumers

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Apple’s App Store for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, along with Google’s Android Market, are bad for consumers, according to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, since they are platform-specific. Instead, he thinks mobile apps should be coded in HTML 5 so they can run on any device.

Mr. Stephenson shared his thoughts on mobile apps during a presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, according to USATODAY.

“You purchase an app for one operating system, and if you want it on another device or platform, you have to buy it again,” he said. “That’s not how our customers expect to experience this environment.”

His comments come just days after AT&T lost its exclusive carrier status for Apple’s iPhone and the launch of a Verizon-compatible version of the combination iPod and smartphone.

By abandoning platform native coding and switching to HTML 5 and Web apps, AT&T can push customers to the Wholesale Applications Community — which officially launched on February 14. The WAC lets customers buy HTML 5-based apps that should run on any mobile device.

Apps sold through the WAC won’t be able to take advantage of device-specific features, which may make them less valuable to customers. Assuming customers plan to jump from iPhone to Android OS and again to Windows Phone 7, however, a purchase-once-run-everywhere model could have some appeal.

Competing with the App Store won’t be an easy task, so don’t expect WAC partners AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile to bring Apple’s app distribution system to its knees any time soon.

Comments

prl53

HTML-5 for all apps? This only addresses a portion of what the apps do. As for trying to make an app work cross-every-platform, it’s never going to happen. It hasn’t worked on desktops and it doesn’t have to work on mobile platforms. I’m tired of getting retreaded Windows code trying to run on Macs. Windows OS and Mac OS use two totally different coding structures. Android is closer to OSX but still different enough. What AT&T wants is one OS, then all applications can be run on all platforms but that would stifle all creativity. As for only using web apps, why???? It’s the same dumb reason as only using “cloud” computing. I want to use my devices without having to constantly contact some server out on the web. If I’m using a GPS application out in the middle of nowhere, why should I have to have access to the web to use it, especially when the web isn’t there!!! Why limit users by requiring constant cellular/network access?????

I am an AT&T customer but give me a break. Apple has a product that is working and working well for many users.

Lee Dronick

?You purchase an app for one operating system, and if you want it on another device or platform, you have to buy it again,? he said. ?That?s not how our customers expect to experience this environment.?

Where did he come up with that?

vpndev

AT&T iPhone customers: AT&T policies are restrictive, anticompetitive and bad for iPhone users

PorthosJon

AT&T iPhone customers: AT&T policies are restrictive, anticompetitive and bad for iPhone users

Really?  Which do AT&T have that Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile don’t?

I’m an AT&T iPhone user, and after some of the worst customer service ever received (from Verizon) I swore that I would not ever give them any of my money again.  So I’m with AT&T, they suck, but at least they have never wasted 3 days of my time explaining how they won’t offer me an early upgrade because the phone that I bought had a design defect and kept having to be replaced every 2 months (at the cost of a day of wasted time for me each time).  When I told them they were going to lose my business, they didn’t come up with a way to keep me, they just threatened me with the termination fee.  5 years later a class action suit refunded that to me.

mhikl

What an egocentric point of view, AT&T. Get over it. The world doesn’t revolve round you. It revolves around Apple.

Sheesh!. Everyone knows that. grin

Tiger

Using that logic, the OS of any phone is bad for users. It’s not portable to any device. Nor are they for computers.

It’s called choice. AT&T enjoyed that exclusive contract just a LITTLE too long!

Charles Jenkins

It’s amazing that the CEO of a company that rips off customers with tack-on fees, overpriced SMS messaging, required data plans with pitiful traffic caps, etc, etc, etc, would dare open his mouth with a complaint about how customers expect to be treated.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

More likely Flash. The drawing model, ability to modularize and organize code, and obfuscation of source just isn’t there (widespread) with HTML5.

I’m surprised he isn’t talking about the flaccid Verizon Unicorn, though. I don’t think anyone expected that, present company excluded of course.

Lee Dronick

It?s amazing that the CEO of a company that rips off customers with tack-on fees, overpriced SMS messaging, required data plans with pitiful traffic caps, etc, etc, etc, would dare open his mouth with a complaint about how customers expect to be treated.

Maybe we should stop referring to them as Ma Bell and call them Ma Barker.

To be fair they are in the business of making money, but that doesn’t mean I have to like their practices.

dlstarr7

Didn’t Steve Jobs say this back in 2007, in his own way?

Greg Lawhorn

So, tying users to an app store is BAD, but tying them to AT&T is GOOD? Hmm . . . glad I’m with Verizon now.

ppartekim

Now ATT wants a universal App. Gee, why didn’t they think of that before smartphones. I remember all those Java games one would buy for a phone and then have to buy them again when you upgraded. ATT didn’t have a problem then. Now the Apple/Google App store comes around and now they have a problem.. The problem is they don’t make the money, screw the user, we want to sell them the apps.

Intruder

Nice spin, Bosco. An unnamed source says sales are “a little under expectations”, but doesn’t say what those expectations were in the first place. That does not equal “flaccid”, except to someone who fervently hopes that the product fails.

I agree that Flash would be a better choice for cross-platform standalone apps, assuming that you could still use device-specific capabilities and it doesn’t eat the battery life. HTML5 isn’t quite ready to do everything.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@Intruder… I guess you missed the “Thanks, Lindsey S.!” at the end, huh? This might be a warning shot or a guidance leak. My hunch is that it’s more of an “OK, Verizon Unicorn story is over” statement from Apple.

xmattingly

Well, instead of the shotgun approach and declaring “App Stores to be bad for consumers”, how about suggesting an approach that’s already being used on desktops?

If you want to switch platforms with software that you own, vendors that develop for multiple OS’s (Microsoft, Adobe, etc.) will let you do a “cross-grade”, which means you can buy the same version for the OS you’re switching to, typically at a discount.

Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect app developers to be able to do the same? Obviously, licensing would have to be worked out with the gatekeepers, but even so I see it as an issue that needs to be worked out between the developers and device makers. It’s not solely a problem with the devices.

Additionally, methinks a certain CEO is intensely jealous that he’s not getting kickbacks from these walled gardens (as ppartekim pointed out).

computerbandgeek

I want to use my devices without having to constantly contact some server out on the web

Try an experiment. Go to Gmail.com on your iPhone. Now put your phone in airplane mode so it is disconnected from the internet. Then go to Gmail.com. Notice how it still works? That’s one of the points of HTML5, you can store AJAX code offline.

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